As predicted; Cherkley Court, Surrey now for sale

Cherkley Court, Surrey
Cherkley Court, Surrey

When the doors to Cherkley Court in Surrey closed to visitors in December 2009, it was thought that low visitor numbers had proved it uneconomic to keep the house and gardens open.  However, as predicted by a commenter to my original blog post [thanks Andrew], Cherkley Court is now for sale and has been launched with a double-page centre spread in the Sunday Times Home section today [19 Sept 2010].

If one was to try an define what might constitute a perfect trophy estate in Surrey, Cherkley Court might well tick most of the estate agents’ criteria.  The grade-II listed house, built c1870 (and rebuilt after a fire in 1893), is a four-storey, chateau-style mansion extending to over 24,000 sq ft with home cinema and five grand reception rooms, with nearly 400-acres of gardens and parkland.

The house is now for sale following a 7-year, £10m restoration of the house and grounds orchestrated by the architect Christopher Smallwood and David Mlinaric, the interior designer.  The house became a famous venue for parties under the ownership of Max Aitken (later Lord Beaverbrook) and his wife Gladys who lived there until her death in 1994.  It was her death which sparked a bitter legal dispute between beneficiaries of the will which has forced the sale.

So if you have £20m and don’t mind the restriction on not landing your helicopter in the grounds, have a word with Savills.

Property details: ‘Cherkley Court, Surrey‘ [Savills]

Listed building description: ‘Cherkley Court, Surrey

Cherkley Court closes to the public

Cherkley Court, Surrey (Image: geograph.co.uk)

Despite the continued visitor success of the more famous country houses such as Castle Howard, the closure of Cherkley Court  in Leatherhead, Surrey, to the public shows that the smaller houses can find it much harder to make a profit.

The house was built in the 1860s but rebuilt in a French chateau-style following  a serious fire in 1893 and was home to the press baron Lord Beaverbrook. Now the charitable Beaverbrook Foundation which owns the house has decided that their funds can no longer subsidise the running of the house.  Previously the grounds had been open to the public and a new cafe and gift shop had been built in 2008 but even this failed to lift visitor numbers sufficiently. 

So what does the future hold?  The foundation have confirmed that it will honour all events and weddings already booked but will not be taking any more.  Although the house and estate was recently valued by Savills, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that it might be put up for sale.  However this might actually be good solution as the many millions the sale would surely raise would be a healthy boost for the Foundation’s other charitable work but would also ensure that the house was in use which is the main protection against creeping neglect.  Fingers crossed that whatever the outcome, this interesting house is preserved for the future.

Full story: ‘Beaverbrook’s Leatherhead country home Cherkley Court closes to public‘ [Epsom Guardian]